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All The Masks We're Wearing

I have a confession to make. There have been days I’ve actually enjoyed myself during quarantine. Not to brag, but my family is super fun. We’ve been coming up with really creative activities to do together. Family Chopped competitions, trivia nights, puzzles, games, you name it, we’ve probably done it. To the outside eye, it probably looks like we’re all actually really enjoying quarantine.


Honestly, it's true. We are enjoying ourselves. I’m feeling really lucky to be with my family right now and grateful for all the memories we’re making. But don’t let that fool you into thinking I’m not eager for this quarantine to end. Don’t be fooled into thinking it hasn’t still taken its toll on me. Don’t be fooled by the mask I’m wearing to show off to the world.

My sister and I hosting online trivia last week

Feelings are super complicated. A pandemic and a nation wide quarantine doesn’t exactly simplify them. For example, I can be generally sad and uneasy about what is happening in the world at the moment. I can also be happy during certain moments. Making music with my sister or playing pinochle with my parents, for example. Basically the age old adage that there can be bright moments of light even in times of darkness.


As I’ve shared many times, I truly feel called to spread joy and positivity, especially with my social media presence. So I’ve been sharing a lot of my family’s quarantine activities. Sharing uplifting songs or funny videos has been a great outlet for me to spread some silliness and fun on a platform that is full of negativity, judgement, and constant COVID-19 stories.


However, just because I’m only sharing joyful moments, doesn’t mean those are the only moments I’ve been having.


It really is true that social media posts are the happiest highlights of our life. I mean, I shared a video of my sister and I singing last week. Little did you know that the video was actually taken a few days prior, and on that actual day I could barely get out of my bed and I cried for hours out of desperation for this situation to be over.


But of course, I don’t want anyone, not even my family, to see that side of me. That side isn’t productive or spreading hope in a time of doubt. So instead of sharing how hopeless I feel, I’ll put on my brave face and share some hope and light.


In a time where so many people, not just me, are sharing these sorts of happy videos and creative stories, it struck me. That brave face we’re embracing right now is the second kind of mask we’re being asked to wear.


I’m not talking about the physical mask you have to put on to go to the grocery, but the emotional, figurative kind. The kind of mask you wear in high school to fit in rather than show off your true identity. The kind of mask you put on when you’re a parent struggling with depression, but you have to be there for your children. The kind of mask we all put on to prove that we can concur what is in front of us, especially when we’re terrified that we can’t.


So yea, right now I’m wearing a mask more often than just when I leave the house.


Masks can be layered. Some days we don’t need them. Some days we let our true colors shine on through. We’re happy. We’re coping fine. Everything is generally going okay. Other days, we need to put on a brave face just to get out of bed. We put on the layers of hope and the courage of positivity, because without that mask, it would be much harder to face our current situation.


We are wearing masks in public to avoid this virus infecting us. We’re also wearing masks in private to avoid the virus infecting not just our body, but also our heart and soul. I wake up and put on my mask of productivity, and creativity, and projects to work on, and excitement about the games we get to play and meals we get to cook and time we get to be together. I put on that mask, and it saves me for the day. And it will probably save me for tomorrow.


I feel like the movies usually glorify the idea of taking your “mask” off and letting the world see you for who you truly are. Honestly, when I started writing, I thought that's where I was headed too. But as I’m unpacking this somewhat complicated metaphor for myself, I realize that now, more than ever, our emotional masks may be saving us. So I guess the moral of the story I’m telling is to use your masks however they’re helping you.


If you haven’t given yourself time to grieve because you’ve been putting on a bright face for everyone else, I give you permission to take off that mask for a while. Have your moment of grief, fear, and doubt. Then feel free to return to that mask of positivity when you’re ready to get into the fight again.


There is a time and place for your masks. For instance, the CDC has recommended that now is a time to wear the physical ones when you go out for your essentials. Your emotional masks are yours to wear when you need them.


So strap on whatever mask is getting you through today. Bravery, positivity, hope. Because right now those masks are giving us strength. The strength we each need to face our own journey during this difficult time.


Love to you all.


-ACB-


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